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Unlimited 2014 - disability arts online
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The Kaos Signing Choir took over the Clore Ballroom on Sunday morning to spread a bit of happiness / 9 September 2014

By Amardeep Sohi

I went to the Learn How to Sign, Sing and Dance to Pharrell William’s Happy Workshop and participatory workshop

Happy: a state of mind and the title of the infectious single by Pharrell Williams, which induced adults and children alike, to gather at the Southbank Centre on a sunny Sunday afternoon to sign, sing and dance.

It’s not often that I abandon my pen and notebook when reviewing, but abandon them I did. Learning how to sign is engraved onto my list of things to learn, and this workshop presented the perfect opportunity to start.

The fedora-sporting Jemima and Mikeel led the crowd that had gathered under the glistening glitterball of the Clore Ballroom. Forming a large circle, the group was asked to begin the warm-up session by introducing a dance move to the group that signified happiness for them.

Examples of the happy moves put forth by the group included: swirling, body-rolling, leaping and hip shaking. Warm up complete, the session moved onto learning sign language to accompany the song lyrics. The song is only made up of two verses and that clap calling chorus, so it seemed achievable for even the most inexperienced novice.

The pace was a little fast for this particular novice, but nothing that the repetitive structure of the workshop didn’t resolve. Although, breaking down the signing, would have resulted in less repetition.

Organisers of this participatory workshop could not have chosen a more befitting soundtrack.  Not only is it a song that can compel the most reluctant of dancer to move, but the joyous energy is catching. By the end of the session, the steady stream of adults easily outnumbered the children.

The final performance was enhanced by the uplifting sound of the Kaos Signing Choir, who raised the musical bar during a final performance that brought the footfall of the Southbank Centre to a halt, and commandeered the attention of all those in the vicinity.

I struggle to think of a more creative and memorable way of learning BSL.

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